United Arab Emirates Boldly Go Where No Arab Nation Has Gone Before: Space
The United Arab Emirates, which is known for its bold and ambitious projects, now plans to boldly go where no Arab state has gone before: space. It has announced it will send a probe to Mars, launching an ambitious new space programme.
The unmanned space ship will travel 37 million miles to the Red Planet, according to the Times. The UAE want to land on Mars by 2021, an ambitious target for a country that has absolutely no experience in space.
Rulers of the country expressed their determination to make the project work, despite how ludicrous it sounds. But they do have a track record off pulling off wacky projects, some of which that have turned the country into a sort of alcohol and gambling free Las Vegas.
There are also jokes locally that if they fail the sand dunes of the country will create the perfect backdrop for a fake landing. It is also so sparsely populated that any hoax rockets would be fairly easy to hide.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, said: "Despite all the tensions and the conflicts across the Middle East, we have proved today how positive a contribution the Arab people can make to humanity...Our region is a region of civilisation. Our destiny is, once again, to explore, to create, to build and to civilise."
The announcement was very broad and lacked any details, but the UAE are widely known to be keen to diversify their economy. Unlike many of their neighbours, the rulers of the country have spent billions trying to create a future for their population if oil runs out or ceases to be a popular fuel. Elsewhere in the Middle East, oil riches end up being spirited out of the country by rulers, creating tension and leading to the growth of extremists groups.
Whilst the UAE is considered moderate, and this announcement is being greeted with derision, any viable programme is likely to cause some concern in the West. Space programmes help develop technologies that can easy be used for military purposes, and given regional instability this could spell problems for Israel. Especially if the technology is shared with more hostile Arab nations.
Some years ago the UAE pushed for the formation of a Pan-Arab Space Agency, with countries in the region pooling their talent and resources. The plan was a non-starter because rivalries in the Arab world are often much more deep seated and vitriolic than in other regions.
An Arab country entering the space race is further evidence that humanity is increasingly turning to space exploration, and in the future perhaps colonisation of other planets. As reported on Breitbart London earlier this week, Britain is to build the first spaceport outside the US. The UK says they will use it to launch satellites, space tourists and supersonic passenger jets that will leave the earth’s atmosphere.
Moves into space could lead to a dash for new worlds in the same way as pioneers like Colombus sought to leave Europe in search of something new. At present we lack the technologies to achieve many of the ambitions of the futurists but new advances are now coming on a daily basis and as a result things that looked impossible 50 years ago are now common place.